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Love is a beautiful and complex emotion that many of us aspire to experience in our lives. However, for individuals struggling with addiction, love can be a difficult and elusive concept. 

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017. 

Addiction not only affects the individual but also their relationships with loved ones. Here we will explore why an addict may struggle to love you and the impact addiction can have on relationships.

Love and drug addiction are two powerful forces that can both be overwhelming and all-consuming. It’s not uncommon for those struggling with addiction to struggle with relationships and love. Here we will explore the connection between love and drug addiction.

The Struggle to Love

Drug addiction can make it challenging to love and be loved. Addiction can consume a person’s thoughts and actions, making it difficult for them to prioritize their relationships. Addiction can also lead to changes in behavior, mood swings, and even manipulation, which can make it difficult to maintain healthy relationships. Additionally, addiction can cause a person to isolate themselves and push loved ones away, making it hard to build and maintain meaningful connections.

Addiction vs. Love

One of the biggest challenges for those struggling with addiction is the decision to choose between the addiction and the people they love. Addiction is a powerful disease that can override a person’s ability to make rational decisions, causing them to prioritize the substance over their relationships. Addiction can also cause a person to believe that they are unlovable or unworthy of love, which can lead to self-destructive behaviors.

The Role of Love in Recovery

Despite the challenges that addiction presents, love can play a significant role in recovery [4]. Love and support from family and friends can provide motivation and encouragement to seek treatment and support throughout the recovery process. Love and connection can also help to rebuild damaged relationships and improve overall mental health and well-being.

The Importance of Professional Help

It’s important to remember that addiction is a disease that requires professional help and support. While love and support from family and friends can be helpful, it’s essential to seek treatment from trained professionals who can provide evidence-based treatment and support.

Love is an essential part of life, and we all deserve to experience it. However, when you are in a relationship with someone struggling with addiction, it can feel like they don’t love you in the way you need. You may question the ability of a drug addict to offer love and whether a drug addict can truly love someone. The answer is complicated. Here we will discuss ten reasons why an addict may struggle to love you, based on information from reputable sources.

The Addiction Takes Priority

When someone is in the throes of addiction, their substance abuse often takes priority over everything else, including their relationships. They may not intentionally choose drugs or alcohol over you, but their addiction can consume them, leaving little room for anything else. 

Emotional distance

Addiction can cause individuals to become emotionally distant, making it difficult for them to connect with their loved ones. They may be unable to express their feelings or empathize with others, leaving them feeling isolated and alone. 

Trust issues

Addiction can lead to trust issues in a relationship, with the addict lying about or hiding their substance abuse from their partner. This deception can damage the trust between partners, making it challenging to build a healthy, loving relationship. 

Selfish behavior

Addiction can cause individuals to become self-absorbed, putting their own needs and desires above those of their partner. They may prioritize their substance abuse over their relationship, leaving their partner feeling neglected and unimportant. 

Intimacy issues

Addiction can impact an individual’s ability to be intimate with their partner. They may struggle to connect physically or emotionally, leading to feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction for both partners. 

Mood swings

Addiction can cause severe mood swings, making it challenging for individuals to regulate their emotions. This emotional instability can create tension in a relationship, causing the non-addict partner to feel like they are walking on eggshells around their loved one. 

Inconsistent behavior

Addiction can lead to inconsistent behavior, making it challenging to maintain a stable and healthy relationship. The addict may be present one moment and absent the next, causing their partner to feel unsure and insecure in the relationship. 

Financial strain

Addiction can be costly, both in terms of money and time. The addict may spend significant amounts of money on their substance abuse, leading to financial strain in the relationship. This financial stress can lead to arguments and resentment, further damaging the relationship. 


Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process, and relapse is a common occurrence. The fear of relapse can create anxiety and stress in the non-addict partner, making it challenging to maintain a healthy and loving relationship. 


Codependency is a common issue in relationships with addicts, with the non-addict partner taking on a caretaker role. This codependency can create a dynamic where the non-addict partner’s self-worth is tied to their ability to “fix” or “save” the addict. This dynamic is unhealthy and can prevent both partners from healing and growing. 

When a person becomes addicted to drugs, their priorities in life shift drastically. What was once important to them, such as relationships and love, may take a backseat to their addiction. It can be hard for the loved ones of addicts to understand why they seem to choose drugs over love, but there are several reasons why this happens.

The Power of Addiction

Addiction is a powerful force that can take over a person’s life completely. It rewires the brain, making the need for drugs or alcohol more important than anything else. Love and relationships may become secondary to the intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms that come with addiction. Even if an addict truly loves someone, the power of their addiction can make it difficult for them to prioritize that love over their drug use.

Emotional Disconnection

Many addicts use drugs or alcohol as a way to escape their emotions or numb themselves to painful feelings. They may struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, or other mental health issues that they are trying to cope with. As a result, they may feel emotionally disconnected from their loved ones and have a hard time expressing love or receiving it in return. They may also push away those who try to help them, as they feel they can only rely on drugs to get them through tough times.

The False Sense of Security

For addicts, the world can feel chaotic and overwhelming. Drugs or alcohol can provide a temporary escape from reality and create a false sense of security. Addicts may feel that drugs are the only constant in their life and the only thing they can rely on. Love and relationships, on the other hand, can be unpredictable and unstable. This may make it difficult for an addict to prioritize love over their addiction, as they see drugs as a more reliable source of comfort and security.

Discovering that your loved one is struggling with addiction can be a devastating experience. You may feel helpless, angry, confused, and unsure of what to do next. Addiction is a complex disease that affects not only the person struggling with it but also those closest to them. Here, we will explore some signs that may indicate your loved one is struggling with addiction.

Physical Signs

One of the most obvious signs that someone may be struggling with addiction is physical changes. They may experience unexplained weight loss or gain, red or bloodshot eyes, and skin changes. They may also exhibit changes in their sleep patterns and eating habits.

Behavioral Signs

Addiction can lead to changes in behavior. You may notice that your loved one is no longer interested in activities they used to enjoy or that they are suddenly spending more time alone. They may also begin to exhibit erratic behavior and mood swings, or become defensive and secretive.

Financial Issues

Addiction is a costly disease, and it can quickly deplete a person’s financial resources. Your loved one may begin to borrow money or sell their possessions to fund their addiction. You may also notice unexplained financial transactions, such as withdrawals from their bank account or credit card charges.

Relationship Issues

Addiction can also cause strain in relationships. Your loved one may become distant and withdraw from friends and family, and they may also begin to prioritize their addiction over their relationships [1]. They may also become argumentative and defensive when confronted about their behavior, leading to further strain.

Inability to Love

Addiction can cause changes in the brain’s chemistry, making it difficult for an addict to experience true love and connection. They may be unable to express or feel emotions in a healthy way, leading to a lack of intimacy and closeness in relationships.

Loving someone who is struggling with addiction can be a challenging and heartbreaking experience. You may feel helpless, frustrated, and unsure how to support your loved one. Here we will discuss some things to keep in mind when loving someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Understand the Disease of Addiction

It’s essential to understand that addiction is a disease that affects the brain’s chemistry and behavior. Your loved one is not choosing to be addicted or to prioritize drugs or alcohol over their relationships. Addiction is a complex disease that requires professional treatment and support.

Set Boundaries

While it’s essential to show your loved one compassion and support, it’s also important to set boundaries. You cannot control their addiction or force them to seek help. You may need to set limits on the relationship to protect yourself and your emotional well-being. This may include limiting contact or not enabling their addiction by giving them money or shelter.

Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

Addiction can lead to changes in behavior, mood swings, and even manipulation. It’s important to remember that these changes are a result of the addiction and not a reflection of your worth or value as a person. Try not to take their behavior personally and focus on supporting their recovery.

Encourage Treatment

Encouraging your loved one to seek professional treatment is one of the most important things you can do to support their recovery. However, it’s important to understand that the decision to seek treatment is ultimately up to them. You can provide information about treatment options, offer to help them find resources, and support them through the process.

Practice Self-Care

Loving someone who is struggling with addiction can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. It’s important to prioritize your self-care and seek support for yourself if needed. This may include talking to a therapist, attending support groups, or taking time for yourself to recharge and rejuvenate.

Loving an addict can be a difficult and painful experience. It is important to understand that addiction is a disease that affects not only the addict but also their loved ones. 

The nature of addiction can make it nearly impossible for the addict to maintain healthy and fulfilling relationships. They may not be capable of expressing love in the same way that non-addicted individuals can, due to their preoccupation with their substance of choice. 

However, this does not mean that addicts cannot love at all, but it may require professional treatment and support to help them overcome their addiction and learn to form healthy relationships. 

Ultimately, it is important to prioritize your own mental and emotional well-being and seek help if you struggle to cope with the challenges of loving someone with an addiction.


The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


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